For the first time since 1949, a section of the San Diego Electric Railway, double track at that, is exposed for only a short time before it will be destroyed in Hillcrest. They last saw service on April 23, 1949 as a part of the #7 streetcar line. The City of San Diego is currently restoring the 1914 Georgia St bridge over University Ave. As a part of this project, they are also lowering University Ave between Park Blvd and Florida St.
These tracks represent a bit of San Diego history and I highly recommend a visit in the next week or so before they are gone. Remnants of the former railway are getting harder to find as time passes and more roads are torn up for various projects.
San Diego’s Mission Valley can be quite a challenge during the winter. Most of the crossings of the San Diego River are low and not bridged. As a result, when it rains these crossings can be closed rather quickly. This greatly affects the ability to transect the valley along these roadways. The freeways, I-5, State 163, I-805, and I-15 are built with bridges and high enough to not flood. This is a guide to what is normally closed during storms.
From west to east:
Pacific Highway – Bridge – not closed
Morena Blvd – Bridge – not closed
Fashion Valley Road – closed more often than not during storms. This crossing has been rebuilt several times as well.
Avenida Del Rio – closed regularly during storms.
Mission Center Road – low crossing built a little higher than average. Still floods during major storms but is strong enough to avoid being damaged as a result.
Camino Del Este – Still low but built strong. Closes during major storms.
Qualcomm Way – Closes during very large storms. Built a little higher to help keep it open during major storms.
Ward Road – very low crossing and subject to closure during storms.
San Diego Mission Road – low crossing and subject to closure.
Friars Road (east) – Bridge – does not close.
Now, in the event all of these low-level crossings are closed, it is probably best to simply avoid Mission Valley in general. If you have to be there, I would suggest taking the 163 or 15 to cross the San Diego River. It may be a convoluted and circuitous route to use, but it is your only choice. Mission Valley circulation wasn’t designed with the river to flood in mind, unfortunately. Some developments, such as Fashion Valley Mall, was at least partly designed for flooding. The southern parking structure was built with the lower floor to be flooded and still allow for use of the rest of the structure. Even MTS built the San Diego Trolley Green Line with the floods in mind. Most of it is elevated through the valley.
In the course of doing research on old US 395 and I-15 in the Miramar area, I came upon a very interesting set of plans. In 1979, a bicycle path was constructed along what is now Kearny Villa Road from Harris Plant Road to Carroll Canyon Road. While there are some details about this path still missing, such as why it was built, who was able to use it (being in a military base), and when it was closed. In time I hope to find these things out. In the meantime, I have the plans for the path itself.
Starting at Harris Plant Road, bicyclists were directed from Kearny Villa Road, across the freeway, to Altair Road. About 1/4 mile north on Altair Road, the Class I bicycle path began. It followed Altair Road for a short distance, crossed under the freeway at San Clemente Canyon, and then followed the east side of the freeway. Once it joined with Ammo Road, it was basically a Class II bike lane. The lane followed the shoulder of I-15 from near Miramar Way all the way to Carroll Canyon Road, where it exited the freeway and terminated.
Much of the Class I sections of the path remain today, albeit closed off. I had seen the roadway many times before in aerial photography and from the ground while inspecting the old freeway. I never knew what it was, other than a rather narrow roadway. The path was the first instance of bicycle specific infrastructure in this area. It wouldn’t be the last, as the current Kearny Villa Road freeway still retains a buffered bike lane today. While it is not yet known what prompted this path to be built, it does show that Caltrans has at least been trying to help cyclists in this area for quite some time. I do find it rather interesting that the path was built just a few years before this section of freeway was bypassed. I suspect, though do not officially know, that the path was abandoned not long after the bypass in 1983. A bit more research is still necessary to determine that.
The City of San Diego has a fairly easy, although somewhat troublesome to find, webpage that allows citizens to make requests for traffic control devices and more. If you’re looking to get a STOP sign installed, red zone added or removed, or most any change to a roadway (not maintenance related), I recommend sending the City a message via their site. The City does take these requests seriously and will investigate them. If, after their survey, the change is indeed warranted, they may make it happen. Keep in mind that these changes will not happen overnight. Some of my requests took months from start to finish. Just by using that page, I’ve had two stop sign requests and trail crossing signs approved. Anyone can make a positive change to their neighborhood. I’m not special, I just made the requests when I felt those changes would help others and improve safety.
The railroad line that runs from San Diego to Los Angeles has seen many changes since it was originally constructed the early 1880’s. One of those changes was at the Los Penasquitos Marsh, otherwise known as Soledad Marsh. Originally, the railroad went around the marsh, passing along the hills to the north instead of going directly through as it does today. This realignment took place in the mid 1930’s. The portion of the alignment crossing the marsh is still used as a utility right-of-way. The majority of the line outside the marsh has long since been redeveloped into housing.
Other than the short section of original right-of-way remaining, the only other trace of the route is through property lines. This lasting section of right-of-way represents one of the last section of intact original grade within the City of San Diego.
Remnants of the railroad include a short section of cut, some grading, and a culvert. These remnants are mostly in the area along Caminito Mar Villa, a private roadway. Use caution if you choose to explore this area.